Today on the Achieve Your Goals podcast, Ryan Michler is here to teach you how to become more of the man you were meant to be!
Ryan Michler is a husband, father, Iraqi Combat Veteran, and the Founder of Order of Man.
Growing up without a permanent father figure, Ryan was left to learn how to be a man on his own and with the help of a few strong men in his life.
He believes that most, if not all, of the world’s biggest problems could be solved if males everywhere learned how to be better husbands, fathers, friends, and leaders. He’s on a mission to help all men become the men they were meant to be.
- [01:47] Find out how Ryan climbed out of the darkest moment of his life, salvaged a failing marriage, and learned what it truly means to be a man.
- [08:50] Ryan shares what life threatening moments in Iraq taught him about taking things more seriously. You’ll find out why the seemingly trivial choices you make could be negatively impacting your life!
- [13:03] Learn how integrity can help you respond to life’s most difficult decisions.
- [17:38] Jon Berghoff shares a story about playing catch with his son for the very first time and what it can teach us about prioritizing what matters the most!
- [20:44] Are you grinding it out 24/7? Why do we all feel this constant need to be everywhere and doing everything? Ryan explains the work/life balance conundrum, the importance of setting boundaries, and putting emphasis on the areas of your life that are most important.
- [22:00] Why it’s so important that entrepreneurs and high achievers create space to think creatively.
- [24:26] Why did Ryan start Order of Man and how is he using it as a vehicle to teach guys to be men?
- [27:00] The 3 P’s of manhood and the rite of passage moments you can create for your kids.
- [31:56] Why being a parent to your children is significantly more important than being their friend. Consider how this same concept can also be applied in a leadership role between you and your employees.
- [35:05] The story behind Ryan’s incredibly impressive beard 🙂
[Tweet “”My job is to raise a kid that doesn’t need me.” – Ryan Michler”]
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[00:00:31] Jon: Welcome Achieve Your Goals podcast listeners. I am here right now here live with a new friend, a good friend, Ryan Michler. Ryan, how are you doing buddy?
[00:00:40] Ryan: Good. How are you? It’s been what? Two or – I don’t know. Maybe it’s been a month. How long has it been?
[00:00:44] Jon: Yeah. So, I got to look over to my calendar here.
[00:00:46] Ryan: Yeah. Sorry to throw you off here.
[00:00:48] Jon: Yeah. We were together in Austin at the Front Row Dads Retreat, yeah, almost a month.
[00:00:53] Ryan: A month. That’s crazy how fast time goes.
[00:00:55] Jon: It was an awesome time. And for all of our listeners, that was where I met Ryan for the first time. Ryan was a guest and a participant at our Front Row Dads Retreat which in and of itself is a magical experience in a deeply committed community of dads who really care about strengthening their purpose, sharing their best strategies and creating a tribe or a brotherhood to help each other in this important journey of being a dad. And, Ryan, we got to meet you there. You were there as a participant and we got to interview you and in real-time during an interview I thought, “Oh, we’ve got to bring Ryan to the Achieve Your Goals community,” because so much of what you shared even though it’s through the lens of this is for men and for fathers, I thought everybody can appreciate the values that you are sharing. So, I’m super pumped to have you here and ready to have a great conversation if you’re ready to roll.
[00:01:45] Ryan: Let’s do it. I am ready. Let’s do this.
[00:01:47] Jon: Ryan, I want to start with a question that I got to hear you answer when we were in Austin and I was immediately captivated by your story and the question that I got the privilege to ask you was before Order of Man and we’re going to get to what led to the creation of this community which is thriving and growing and what are you teaching these men through your community. But before all that, I wanted to know what were maybe some kind of defining moments in your life or seminal moments that lead to you becoming Ryan Michler, to becoming a person who is now leading a community. And I’ll let you go with that where you want. I got to hear some incredible stories.
[00:02:29] Ryan: Yeah. You know, really interesting because I knew you’d mention you’re going to ask this question is that I was thinking about this and I think this is true for a lot of people. The defining moments in our lives are the ones that are the most difficult to go through. Like I remember in my life the most difficult times, the darkest places of my life are what I look back on now and think that is a pivotal moment that changed who I am and how I view the world and what I can do and it actually strengthened me. If we were to go back to the very beginning, my dad was out of the picture for the most part, unfortunately, by the time I was three years old. He just wasn’t there. My mom and he went through a divorce. I had a stepfather come into my life when I was about nine years old and I remember glimpses. There were little glimpses of him being a great father but at the end of the day he was an alcoholic, never abusive, just not really present as a father should be in mind, now knowing what I know. That marriage didn’t work out.
When I was 14 years old, my mom was remarried again and this gentleman was very charismatic, seemed like he cared, very successful when he came to business but all of the tools and the abilities and gifts and everything that he was blessed with and he had developed over a lifetime of being in the business, he used to push other people down and he used to manipulate and coerce. And so, man, growing up I just didn’t have a great example of what it meant to be a father. I remembered literally being devastated when my mom went through the divorce with this man who came in my life when I was 14 because that was my first real opportunity to see how a man behaved and yet it wasn’t a great example. Now, fortunately for me, my mom always had enough foresight to involve me in sports. I was involved in Boy Scouts. So, she knew and she understood the importance of a man or a boy being around other boys, being around other men to get this information from and learn how to interact and behave and how a man shows up. I had some amazing, amazing high school sports coaches who I looked at as mentors and role models and I still stay in touch with almost 20 years later.
[00:04:27] Ryan: But the most pivotal moment though, Jon, to answer your question for me was roughly nine years ago my wife and I had gone through a separation. I had a one-year-old son at the time and for a long time, I blamed her for that separation. I remember literally going in my son’s room, he’s one at the time, maybe a little younger, and laying on the floor and crying and talking to a picture of him saying, “Dude, I’m going to win you back,” and it was like that pivotal and that moment is like so real and so for a long time I blamed her. I said, “Why wasn’t she loyal? How could she do this to me? How could she take away my son?” And I don’t remember why this changed but I know where it changed and I know when it happened. I was driving down the road. I remember the road I was on. I remember the cross street I was on and I thought to myself, “You know, Ryan, this marriage of yours might be over,” and that was the first time that I came to the conclusion or faced the reality that this was probably over.
And I said, “You know, I’m going to do everything that I can.” I can’t control my wife. I can’t manipulate her. I can’t win her back. I just have to go to work on myself and hopefully, I can salvage the marriage. If I can’t, I’m going to be the best catch for the next woman to come along in my life. And what was really fascinating is as I did this and I took this journey of surrounding myself with good men and putting good information in my brain and doing all the things that everybody listening to this in one form or another knows they should be doing. It was like I walked over to a wall and flipped the switch on the way that she responded to me. I think a lot of people spend a lot of time focused on how can I tweak this or manipulate this or do certain activities or say certain words or send certain emails to get other people to do what I want them to do, when all reality, if we would just turn that around and say, “What can I do to be the best person possible?” people are going to respond to that. And she did and we salvaged our marriage. This year we have been married for 13 years.
[00:06:28] Ryan: I’ve got four children and life is still hard at times. We still had disagreements and arguments. We’re arguing last night about the dog and why he was barking. It’s just part of the deal but we can get through this stuff because I’ve taken responsibility for the thing that I can control in our marriage which is me. And I put a lot of emphasis and responsibility on the way that I show up as a husband and I show up as a father and there’s a lot that I can do within the family dynamic when I show up the way I know how I should be showing up.
[00:06:55] Jon: Yeah. That’s awesome, Ryan. I just want to share with the group as a listener a few things I really appreciate that you just shared. One is I find it really interesting and I think it’s worth all of us asking, what is it in life that draws us towards certain strengths? And in your case, you had become a teacher for many different men about what it can mean to be a man. The irony is you didn’t even have a great father figure as a kid. I think that’s really a cool thing to notice that what you have allowed to emerge as a strength is the thing that you never had. I wouldn’t be surprised many of us discovered that that’s a pattern that we often allow strengths to emerge to help others, that ultimately, they were what we needed the most at different times in our life. I also loved hearing, Ryan, that you chose to take the position of, “Hey, if I want to improve my relationship, I’ve got to work on who I am as a person and that’s going to attract versus how do I influence somebody else?”
And what’s interesting, I’m always listening for patterns. When I hear folks like yourself who have been helping many others, we did an episode here, I think we released it Valentine’s Day, where Brandy Salazar and also Stacey Martino, both relationship coaches, one of the trends in both of their answers was how important it is in our relationships that we really put the focus on ourselves and how do we become the person that will attract the relationship that we need versus wondering or worrying about can we control what other people think of us. And so, for me to see that pattern and then you sharing that again today is really helpful for me and I’ve been married 11 years. I’ve got three little kids.
[00:08:33] Ryan: Awesome.
[00:08:33] Jon: So, what was I arguing about this morning? It was always about the trash.
[00:08:37] Ryan: Right. Just stuff that’s not really all that important, right?
[00:08:40] Jon: Yeah. And really uninteresting to people who don’t have 11 years of marriage and three kids. They’d be amazed of the things that you can debate about. You had, if I remember, another experience in your life. You spent some time in Iraq and if I remember that, there was maybe a lesson or two or a perspective that may have given you that was also formative for you. Is there anything you could share about that?
[00:09:04] Ryan: Yeah. What’s really fascinating, a lot of people obviously are familiar with to some degree what the military would be like. A lot of people that are listening has probably have served in the military or a very structured environment whether that’s in their work or maybe they are a police officer, a firefighter and so you understand this. But what was really fascinating is when I was in Iraq there literally was not a day that went by where we didn’t get hit with a rocket and mortar, I mean, every single day without fail. And part of my job, while I was in Iraq, was to take the information that was coming from the observation post around the base and distil that down and figure out how exactly were we going to respond to this. Is this a threat that something we don’t need to respond to? Is this something that we do need to respond to? And if we do, how are we going to do it? What’s the foresight? How are we going to respond to this threat? And that was my job.
And what was really fascinating about this and difficult at the same time is the way that I went about my duties and my responsibilities literally spell the difference between life and death for another human being. If I didn’t do my job and if I didn’t show up the way that I had been trained to do, that meant that one of our soldiers wouldn’t get to come home and wouldn’t get to see his son play baseball or go to his daughter’s dance recital or be with his wife again and that’s a pretty heavy responsibility. And what it’s taught me is that there’s a time for play. There’s a time for play. There’s a time for fun. There’s a time for lightheartedness but there’s also a time for seriousness. And I wish if I can just like instill one virtue into somebody, it would be like knowing when it’s time to get serious and put it all on the line and really double down and take all of the training and the experiences and the cultures and the beliefs and the stories and the conversations that you’ve had and use that stuff as this like life is serious.
[00:11:04] Ryan: The choices that you’re making right now, although they might sound trivial like it might sound trivial that you decided to hit the snooze button this morning. It might sound trivial if instead of eating a healthy breakfast, you have a big huge stinking burrito. Like that stuff might sound trivial but the way that we do those one things, just pour over into every element of our lives and I think it’s really, really important that we have this seriousness about life because it literally is life or death. It might not be physical death but certainly spiritual death, emotional death. We have these detachments from the work that we’re doing. We’re distant from our families and it’s because we’re not taking this as seriously as I think I should be taking.
[00:11:48] Jon: For the record, I hit my snooze button three times this morning.
[00:11:52] Ryan: It’s hard, man.
[00:11:53] Jon: However, I ate a really healthy breakfast. All right. So, I feel like I’m about equal there. I’ve got to balance it out.
[00:11:59] Ryan: That’s right. Well, Jon, and I got to say this too like the way that I say things sometimes makes it sound like, “Oh well, Ryan never hit snooze.” No, that’s not true. I hit the snooze button. I eat unhealthy at times. I yell at my kids. I lose my temper like I do all of that stuff. The one thing that I’ve never done is said that I’m the expert. Like I’m on this journey. I’m on a journey to become a great husband, a great father, a great business owner, a great man within a community that’s admired and respected and influential within the community. That doesn’t mean I don’t mess up. I’m just on this journey and I want people to come with me. If you’re on board with that, let’s do this together. If not, that’s okay. I’m driving on.
[00:12:38] Jon: See, what I hear when you gave that advice earlier was not that you were necessarily perfect but what I hear is that you reminding us to be aware that everything we do has a consequence. Everything we do has a trajectory. There’s no neutral. Everything we do is either more deeply ingraining one type of habit or another and that I can really fully appreciate. And I want to ask you a little bit more about that. One of the things I’ve enjoyed since I got to know you, seeing some of your communications with your community, you really believe in the importance of integrity. And one of the reasons I loved hearing that from you is because I think as a dad, as a husband, as an entrepreneur, the idea of integrity is such a big deal. I’d love to know what does integrity mean to you and why is it so important and how is it something that we could strengthen?
[00:13:30] Ryan: Yeah. I think at a basic level, integrity is just being a person of your word. Like if you say I’m going to do this then you have to do it. So, I’ll give you a prime example. A couple of days ago my son said, “Dad, can we go play catch?” Well, a couple of days ago it was pretty busy. It was a busy day but I said yes and so I had to schedule my day and tweak my day and adapt my day in accordance with what I told him. Could I have said that my son, “Oh I’m sorry, bud. I know I’ve told you I was going to play baseball with you but my day got really busy.” Like is that a valid excuse? He hears that and he doesn’t rationally understand that. He says, “Well dad’s lying to me. He lied to me.” Now some people say, “Well, it’s not really.” It’s a lie. Like you said you were going to do it and you didn’t do it. So, integrity is about being a person of your word, I mean, bottom line. Now how do you cultivate this? I think part of the way that you do this and this is going to sound really counterintuitive and I don’t know that a lot of people look at this necessarily, stop saying yes to everything. Stop saying – like your default answer should be no.
See, I think a lot of people want to say, “Oh, I would say yes to everything and I want to get this opportunity and that opportunity. I want to do all these things.” Look, I appreciate that and that sounds really noble but at the end of the day like you can’t fulfill your commitments then that yes and that positive attitude is actually getting you in trouble. So, I know exactly what I want and I know what I can say yes and no to that’s going to help me move closer to that objective. If my son says to me, “Dad, can we play catch this morning?” and I get somebody that says, “Hey, I would like to do a podcast with you at 10 o’clock,” and yet that’s the time I had slotted for my son then the answer has to be no. But I can’t make that decision at the moment. Like that decision has to be made already. I get a lot of people that say, “Hey, I’ve love to have you on the show or I love to talk with you. I can meet with you after 5 o’clock in the evening,” to which my response is no. I don’t do podcast interviews after five because that’s my family time and that’s the commitment that I’ve made.
[00:15:32] Ryan: So, it’s a matter of knowing what you want, knowing what you should say yes to, making those decisions beforehand and then just exercising the muscle of consistency and commitment. You’re not going to get this right all the time but you go back and you look and say, “Man, I got this right today,” or, “Man, I really fell short today,” what can I do better tomorrow? And you just build this muscle, build this muscle and you can consistently see the growth that you can have when it comes to being in integrity and being a man of your word.
[00:16:01] Jon: You know, what I really appreciate about what you just shared, Ryan, is I had a mentor of mine who used to say this all the time, and you just described it really eloquently and he talked about how the key to knowing when to saying yes and when to saying no, this is exactly what you just described, is we don’t know when to say yes or what to say no to in life until we have criteria. Like you just gave an example like you know ahead of time before you even get to a certain moment that you’re going to be able to say yes or no to something because you already have these criteria and criteria is like a code word for values. What do I really value? So, what I hear between the example you gave is that you’re really clear on what you value and so making difficult decisions in my mind can actually become easier because you had these criteria. But if I don’t know what I value in my work, if I don’t know what are the lead dominoes, what are the three things that are going to make the other 20 things go better, if I don’t have these things prioritized and lined up with certain values then I don’t know what to say yes or no to.
[00:17:02] Ryan: You’re always going to be second-guessing too. Because I’ve made decisions where I said yes or no and because I don’t have that criteria like you’re talking about, in the back of my mind, “Oh did I make the right decision? Did I do the right thing?” And then we have this self-doubt and then that starts to plant a seed in the way that we interact in our work, in our kids and everything else versus, “No, I told this guy I was going to meet him after 5 o’clock.” I already have that criterion in place. Did I miss an opportunity? Potentially but it doesn’t matter because this is what I value and I’ve already decided that.
[00:17:35] Jon: Yeah. By the way, I have to share with you. You’re giving this example playing catch with your son so I guess I’ll use something that happened to me last night. So, my son, my oldest son, Ace, he’s seven years old and so baseball season just started and I had an experience last night that’s like almost exactly what you’re talking about and I want to share this because it was so meaningful for me that I hope others can find their own meaning through this story. When I got home, Ace had said to me, said, “Dad, we got to go play catch.” And when I got home, our two-year-old and our five-year-old they also wanted my attention. My wife needed my attention. The house needed my attention not to mention that I had some things happening at work yesterday that I could’ve justified all day long I have to give my attention to some things right now.
And what ended up happening is we went out into the backyard and we start playing catch and just to give a little bit of insight, if you’re a dad or a mother of a boy or a girl – I don’t know about all of you but when I’ve had our first kid seven-and-a-half years ago I remember one of the things that were on my like bucket list or my dreams list is I can’t wait until my kids get old enough and at different ages it’s different activities that I can do things that I love with them. And I actually have held an image for a long time and I’ve had lots of images like they’ll trail run with me one day. We’ll hike. We’ll play this. We’ll do that. But one of the images that held for the longest time probably even before I had kids was I can’t wait until I can just play catch with one of my kids. Because I don’t know about you, Ryan, but to me anytime I can throw or catch something that flies through the air, that’s meditative and I can do that for hours. I did when I was a kid. I’ve done it as a grown up with my buddies with Frisbees. Well, last night it was a pivotal moment for me because I had all these things going and I feel fortunate that I did make the decision. I was going to throw the baseball with Ace and the nice thing is at that age is when they can finally start to catch it. It’s not like fetch, right? It’s actually catch.
[00:19:36] Ryan: That’s right. That’s right.
[00:19:37] Jon: Until they learn how to catch it, you’re playing fetch with your kid. It’s like it’s not quite as cool when they can’t catch anything, and now he can finally catch it. So, as we’re playing catch last night and I will say it was the first time that I’ve played catch with my son and largely because it’s the first time that he really could actually catch the ball and throw it back. And we played catch and we’re about 20 minutes in and I’m sitting there realizing the irony that for eight years since before I had kids I’ve been wishing and waiting for and dreaming about the moment I could play catch and yet how easy it was to be so caught up in all of these things in my life that the thing that I’ve been waiting for and wanting the most I was actually despising before I got into it because of the fact that I was letting my priorities and my values get crossed up and mixed up. At the end of it, we played catch and I felt good about it but I thought how interesting that the things that we wished for and asked for when we finally get them, we could complain about them because we allow our values to get messed up. So, I thought I’d share you that.
[00:20:43] Ryan: That’s a great story. No, it’s great. You know, and part of the thing I think we run into and this is especially true just in modern times and the fact that we have technology is our desire and the story that we’ve been led to believe that we have to do it all. Like we have to be busy all the time or we’re not being productive. We have to be hustling and grinding 24/7. We have to be on all the social media platform. We have to do all of the recreational activities and my thought is like I don’t want to live like that. Like I don’t want to be grinding 24/7. I want to work hard when it’s time to work and then I want to play hard with the things that are important to me like my children, my wife and the vacations and the things that we like to do together. This is the balance conversation.
What’s really funny too is there’s a big conversation now happening and it’s like work-life balance doesn’t exist. I’m like for me like I want to find the balance that works for me. It’s not the same for everybody but I do want to involve myself and work. I do want to balance that with family. I do want to be involved in charitable organizations and coaching my kids’ teams. And so, you have to set up these boundaries and recognize that you can’t do it all. You shouldn’t do it all and it’s perfectly okay to say no, I’m not interested in that because I’m putting my emphasis and priority over here.
[00:21:57] Jon: Yeah. You know, that reminds me of I was just rereading this morning one of my favorite books called The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun. I first read this book I think eight years ago and when I say I read it, I didn’t really read it. I thought I read it but then I wasn’t ready for it and when I was rereading it this morning, something that you just said of you’re never going to get it all done, it reminds me of one of the things that Scott teaches really well is that – and he studies creative entrepreneurs and adventurers and the legendary icons that we’ve all heard of. Well, one of the things he talks about is that busy people are not creative people. There’s a strong correlation. The busier people are, it’s very common that they struggle with creativity whereas if you look at great thinkers and innovators and inventors and entrepreneurs, they actually go out of their way to have time where they’re stopping and think.
Like the whole myth about Newton sitting under the tree and an apple fell, I don’t think an apple actually fell on his head. But what we do know is that he used to sit under trees. So, this whole idea of you’re never going to get all done, you actually need to create time and space as an entrepreneur as a thinker for things to come and to happen. We often think, “No. I just need to work, work, work,” and then I’m going to find these new creative answers. What you shared reminded me of that. I thought I’d share that.
[00:23:15] Ryan: It’s hard because – no, I haven’t read that book. I’ll have to. It’s hard because we are like you said, we are just led to believe that you have to go, you have to go, you have to do this, do this 100% especially as achievers. Achievers are doers, right? Everybody listening to this podcast or who are on the Facebook stream right now is to some degree an achiever. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be listening to this. And by the very nature of you being an achiever, it means that you’re also an action taker. But there comes a point in time where that action is actually a detriment versus let me pause, let me stop for a second, back up, is what I’m about to do the best thing I could be doing or at the end of that action is what I did the best thing I should’ve done. What can I do to improve that? How can I change this? That reflection is critical. Critical.
[00:24:00] Jon: Ryan, I’m imagining. In fact, I can tell in real-time because we’re streaming this. I can see that people are loving what they’re hearing. Andy Stewart, he wanted to chime in, by the way, that he’s sitting in an airport lounge watching this and he was actually eating a cookie when you talked about making healthy eating decisions.
[00:24:15] Ryan: Put that down and go get the salad, Andy. Come on, man.
[00:24:18] Jon: John Nigretti just commented that he used to be way more creative when he was less busy. So, thanks for the real-time feedback, guys. Ryan, I want to go back to Order of Man. What was the moment or the decision that caused you to start this community? And I’d love to hear a little bit about what the journey has been like for you from deciding that you want to help men and where it’s gotten you today. What’s that journey been like?
[00:24:45] Ryan: Yeah. So, if I’m being completely truthful with the way that I started, I thought I see that there’s a ton of information out there for men. Like we’re not lacking for that information but there’s a definite disconnect between what we know and what we’re actually implementing in our lives. That’s the story as old as time itself. So, I thought to myself, “Man, there’s got to be a better way like there’s got to be a way to teach guys how to take that information and then apply it.” But more selfishly than that, it was, “I’ve got to find a way to do this for myself.” And so, I had a little bit of podcasting experience with a financial planning practice that I own. That’s a different conversation. And so, I had been doing that podcast and I really enjoyed the medium and I thought, “Man, what if I started a podcast on this subject of masculinity?” That would give me an opportunity to reach out to gentlemen like yourself and these other high, high achieving men and figure out how they’re actually doing it.
So, that’s why I started Order of Man like this is an opportunity for me to find other men who were successful and gain their insights and then just apply that in my life. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would name this. Naming, like you’ve named businesses. It’s like that’s one of the hardest things to do is like to come up with a name for this. But I specifically called it Order of Man for a reason. Like when I hear order, I think of a society, a brotherhood, an organization, a fraternity of men who are all working together towards a common goal. And the most successful I’ve ever been in my life whether that was when I was playing sports, whether that was when I was in the military and serving Iraq, whether that was me in my financial planning practice is when I banded with other people. That’s always the case and I thought, “Man, what a cool opportunity to create a brotherhood of men working together towards that common good.”
And so, we started in March of 2015 so just over two years ago now as of this recording and it’s really taken off and it’s a testament to the power of a group of men or any group of people towards a common goal working together and being willing to share their victories and their struggles so that we can all be better.
[00:26:57] Jon: That’s awesome. Speaking of masculinity, if this falls into that category, one of the things that I learned from you at the Front Row Dads Retreat in Austin last month was that there are some innovative, I consider them innovative, things that you do with your kids at different ages. If I remember, I think you even referred to it as creating. I don’t know if you use the word ceremony. I interpreted it as that. Creating these rite-of-passage experiences for your kids. Could you share any examples of that?
[00:27:28] Ryan: Yeah. Definitely, and that’s what I call it. I call it a rite of passage. We don’t really get that anymore especially men. I think women to some degree have a little bit more even physiology it’s kind of like you know when you’re a woman but when it comes to men, it’s like these boys don’t really know when they’re men and society is not really telling them they have to “man up” anytime soon which is why we have 30 and 40-year-olds that are still in their basement of their mom’s house playing video games, and it’s a problem. And these are adults but they aren’t men. They’re males because they’d never really learned what was required in order to be what I would consider a man. And so, I thought to myself I’ve got four kids, three boys, one girl and I’ve got last year my son just turned eight years old and I thought to myself, “What an awesome opportunity.” Now that he’s eight, I know you’re oldest is seven, where he starts to kind of understand to some degree what’s going on like, “I want to be like dad like there’s something about dad that’s a little bit different. I want to be like that.” I don’t know what it is about what an awesome opportunity that we as fathers have to teach our boys and our daughters what it means to be responsible adults.
And so, what I did with my rite of passage, and I’ll create different ones as they get older and hit benchmarks, is I thought to myself, “All right. I believe that a man is a protector, a provider and a presider,” and we’ll talk about that later if we get to it. But at the end of the day, that’s what a man does. I need to teach my son to some degree whatever he’s capable of understanding at this point how to do that. And so, we planned a camping trip and I said, “You’re going to plan a trip.” He planned the trip. I said, “You’re going to pack for yourself.” He packed for himself. I said, “You’re going to figure out our food list and what we’re going to do for food,” and he figured that all out and wrote it all down. And then I said, “All right. I’m going to give you this,” and I gave him a little Gerber multi-tool pocketknife and I said, “Here, this is for you. We’re going to use this.” And so, we did some different activities on our campout. We did some geocaching. He had to build his own fire. We had little BB guns.
[00:29:28] Ryan: We had to shoot targets and hit certain targets like there was just a lot of different things that we did and we just sat around the campfire at night and we talked about who he is as a male, a boy and what it’s going to take for him to be a man. He loves animals. He wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up. And I got him a lion, a lion cub and a full grown lion and I showed him the cub. I said, “This is you right now. You’re a cub. You have power and you have potential but you haven’t quite grown into this lion yet. And there’s a gap between where you are now and you being a lion and having this mane and being powerful and being the king and the ruler of the jungle and your domain and that gap is the protect, provide, preside.” So, I went through those three components of masculinity with him. The coolest thing about that is he still has those figurines. They’re sitting on his night stand.
And after that rite of passage, he came to me a couple days later. He said, “Dad, can I take these figurines, these animals to school?” I said, “Yeah. Show and tell or what?” And he’s like, “Yeah, but I want to talk about the three Ps.” And so, he went into class and he talked about the three Ps but at the end of the thing, he was rewarded. We got him a little .22 rifle, a bolt action rifle that he loves to shoot now and so it’s just, man, stuff like that is so, so fun to do. I love it.
[00:30:42] Jon: You know, my first thought when you shared that story with us in Austin was, “Man, Ryan’s kids could raise my kids at this point.”
[00:30:48] Ryan: You could say that. That’s right. I don’t know if that’s true but, man, at my job – look, here’s the deal. As a father, this sounds really interesting but our job at the end of the day like if you strip away everything else is to render ourselves obsolete. Like my job is to raise a kid who doesn’t need me. He might want me and I would love that he wants me around but he doesn’t need me around to function. And so, we have to find ways to equip our children, our daughters and our sons and even those kids in the neighborhood which may not have a healthy adult influence in their lives to equip them to be leaders, to lead us because we’re going to ask them to do that in the next two decades or sooner.
[00:31:29] Jon: And for our listeners, I want you to think about the depth of the value of that one comment there. Whether you’re a parent or whether you lead a team, I actually think the value is equal. If you own a business, you want your team or, i.e., your kids or, i.e., your customers, it’s great if they want you, however, the ideal is for them to not need you. I think that’s a really great distinction. Ryan, what is your perspective on the idea of a parent being a best friend of a kid?
[00:32:03] Ryan: Well, obviously, that’s a tough one. Here’s what I have to say. It’s not your job to be their friend like they can be friends and they can rub shoulders and they can wrestle and play sports and everything else with the kids at school. They can do that stuff somewhere else. Your job is not to be their friend. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a deep relationship. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun together but I think the calling in my case of father is significantly greater than friend ever was. And so, I want to have a healthy, playful, serious relationship with my child but again my determining factor is to render myself obsolete. Now some people might hear that and say, “That’s a pretty hard line stance. That’s being a drill sergeant.” Well not necessarily because if I approach my parental duties as a drill sergeant, that’s actually probably doing more harm than good and not helping a child reach their full potential or be able to stand on their own two feet.
Like if I pecked my kids to death over every little thing and just beat them emotionally and physically, that’s not helping them be sustaining on their own. So, there’s a time for a hard-line stance. There’s a time for showing some empathy and compassion and kindness towards your children. So, yeah, you’re not a friend. You’re a father or you’re a mother and that’s significantly greater than any friend could ever be.
[00:33:20] Jon: I appreciate that distinction because it’s something that I’ll admit I’ve not thought specifically about that question as a dad and when I first heard that at the dads’ retreat, I realized, “Wow. For some of these dads that might go against what they’ve been thinking was the right thing to do.” But at the end of the day, I think the spirit of your answer is something that we can all appreciate realizing that we have a specific role that is distinct from just being another friend. And it doesn’t have to be an either/or. It’s a both/and. I can be friends; however, I also have to be the one the parent which means at times I’m going to be doing or saying things that they’re not going to like at the moment but it is my job and so I really appreciate that.
[00:33:58] Ryan: Well think about this too is that your title as parent includes all of the responsibilities of a good friend like support and compassion and having fun and being playful and doing things together but a friend, the title of friend does not include all the responsibilities of a parent. For example, discipline. It’s not a friend’s job to discipline. It’s a parent’s job to discipline so that parenting title includes everything a friend would be responsible for as well.
[00:34:33] Jon: You know, the same way that I reflected to our listeners earlier that you could take this whole conversation and apply it as an entrepreneur and think about if you have employees that you lead that report to you. I think almost everything we’re saying applies in the same way and that it’s totally okay to fill all of those checkboxes of being a friend but you also have to fill the other boxes of leading and supporting and coaching. Whereas, a friend doesn’t have to fill those checkboxes. So, I think that’s awesome. Ryan, a couple more questions to finish. I actually want our listeners to have to go learn about protecting, providing and presiding by finding you at OrderofMan.com. There are a couple of questions that I want to ask. Number one, the beard. I think it would take me a lifetime and a half to grow a beard like that if at all. There’s got to be a story behind the beard and if there’s not, you can make one up and we’ll appreciate it.
[00:35:26] Ryan: No. It’s actually really simple. I have that sexy stubble. You know what I’m talking about like the actors have and it’s that like one or two days. I guess it depends on how quick you can grow your beard. But it’s a stubble, right?
[00:35:35] Jon: Three weeks for me.
[00:35:37] Ryan: Exactly. Whatever it is. My wife came to me and she doesn’t like the stubble. She’s like, “Look, you either got to shave or grow it out.” I’m like, “Deal. I’ll grow it out.” And so, I committed to grow a yeard. That’s a beard without trimming and cutting it for an entire year.
[00:35:55] Jon: Wow. So, a yeard?
[00:35:56] Ryan: So, that’s what I did. Yeah. And it was long. It’s probably 3 or 4 inches long than what it is now. So, I grew the yeard and she likes it, I liked it. I just like it. So, I trimmed it up and I keep it at about this length which is maybe like 10, 11 months.
[00:36:10] Jon: You know, you’re positioning yourself well to play a heck of a Santa at some point.
[00:36:13] Ryan: That’s right. That’s right. I get tagged on just about every beard post and meme and everything else out there so I’ve seen a lot of them.
[00:36:23] Jon: For those of us that don’t have a beard, what would be the most surprising aspect of having a beard? Like what would none of us realize that when you have a beard, it creates this experience for you that we might not think about if we had?
[00:36:35] Ryan: Yeah. So, there’s definitely a level of, it’s interesting, a level of respect and/or intrigue from people. Like I’ve had more people hold open the doors, more people engage in a conversation with me because of the beard. Like last night I was in a convenience store and there was a father and he had four little girls and the little girls were like touch each other and were like, “Look, look,” and they’re pointing at me and so like you have to get used to some attention. The other side of it that I would say is that it’s not like really glamorous at all times. Like it takes work. It’s not just grow it out and everything’s fine. It’s like…
[00:37:16] Jon: You got to attend to the beard.
[00:37:17] Ryan: Exactly. And if you don’t, it’s going to look like garbage and that’s not the look and going for either. So, there’s a lot off like maintenance that goes along with it.
[00:37:24] Jon: Okay. Noted. Noted for my future beard aspirations. I’m going to note this advice. I was going to ask you just one more question but I want to honor that somebody did share a question. John Nigretti. John, good to hear from you, buddy. And his question that he posted in the Facebook group live right now is, do you have any ideas or rite of passage kinds of ideas for dads with their daughters? He says he has a strong-willed four-year-old daughter that scares the crap out of him. So, I know you’ve got three boys and a girl. Any thoughts on raising daughters?
[00:37:53] Ryan: Yeah. That’s a tough call because is it John, is that right?
[00:37:56] Jon: That’s right. Yeah.
[00:37:56] Ryan: Okay. It’s tough, John, because here’s the deal. My daughter just turned three. And so, for us to have like any rite of passage isn’t something that I have had to go through but what I would suggest and one thing that I’m considering doing is that we court and date our daughters. I think that’s really important. The same way that we would court and date our spouses because at the end of the day our daughters are looking to us as an example of the type of men that eventually they’re going to give their heart to. And we’ve got to be able to decide or be deliberate about the type of man that we would be comfortable with giving our daughters hand to and that’s a tough thing. Outside of that, at the age of my daughter is right now is tea parties are really important to her. So, as much as I do not want to sit down and have a tea party with my daughter, I have a tea party with my daughter because that’s what she wants. And so, we have those conversations. So, as far as that goes, that’s what I would do.
Of course, as they get older, I think there are opportunities. I’ll give you an example for my son that we did, my oldest son that we did, that would work really well for daughters. My son like I said wants to be a veterinarian and so I have a friend who’s a veterinarian. I called him up and I said, “Hey, Casey. Can I come over to your office and take my son to your office and just you do your thing but we’ll just watch you.” He’s like, “Yeah. We’ll do that for sure.” So, we went over and he extracted a dog’s teeth so my son got to watch that. He had to weigh in and measure another dog so my son got to watch that. He had to give a cat a pill which was hilarious and just ridiculous to try to give a cat a pill so my son got to watch that. But so, here’s the thing, like we can nurture these cool things that our daughters and our sons are interested in like it’s not enough to just have a book and say, “Here, read about the animals.” Like, give them the experience. So, if your daughter’s interested in horses, cool. Go on a horseback ride, take her on a horseback ride.
[00:39:49] Ryan: The other day my sons and I have been driving by this place near our home and they do helicopter tours and like and every time they’re like, “Dad, that would be awesome. That would be awesome. That would be awesome.” So, I went to school the other day and I took them out of school in the middle of school. I said, “Come on, guys.” They’re like, “What are we doing?” “So, just come on.” And we went on a helicopter ride. Give them the experiences. That’s what I think it is the best rite of passage that you can create for a daughter or a son.
[00:40:14] Jon: I love that. I love that. Ryan, that’s awesome. I’m going to invite everybody and encourage everyone if you’re watching us live through the Facebook stream, please go visit Ryan at OrderofMan.com whether you are or a man or there’s a man in your life that you want to educate on behalf of. Please go check out Ryan, his podcast, his growing rapidly emerging community. I think there’s a reason why there’s a lot of attraction, Ryan, to what you’re doing and I think today’s episode certainly give people clarity on why your community is so strong and growing. You have so much to share and so much to offer. It’s been awesome for me just getting to know you and looking forward to continuing to follow as a fan and a friend as we move forward. Buddy, this was awesome. Thank you.
[00:40:57] Ryan: Likewise. I really appreciate the opportunity and just getting to know you a little bit better and I’m looking forward to having a relationship with you for sure.
[00:41:03] Jon: Awesome. Ryan, thanks, buddy. Take care.
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